Terminal 5, London Heathrow Airport, Hounslow, TW6 2GD +44 2035899658
Awarded 3 AA Rosettes, La Belle Epoque at Sofitel London Heathrow is the airport’s only fine-dining restaurant. Gourmet French cuisine draws from eclectic world influences. The name, La Belle Epoque translates to ‘the beautiful era’, and pays homage to the 19th-century French golden age of cultural revolution.
It is clearly a hidden gem at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, only a few miles from our home. We were introduced to the restaurant by a close friend and self-confessed foodie who has himself eaten at some of the worlds finest restaurants. If he was raving about this place then we knew that it definitely had something good to offer.
This is our fourth visit, we’ve dined with friends, family, just the two of us for a romantic dinner and now we are trying the place with the kids. Now some of you may gasp at that but like us they have come to appreciate good food, be it a hearty bowl of pasta or a Chateaubriand cooked at home on a Sunday, or a fresh cooked bacon sandwich. We all enjoy coming together around a table, sharing stories, building relationships and learning from each other’s mistakes and triumphs. It’s good for us all.
My oldest son has Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). So there are certain things that are essential to us as a family when we dine out that may not be so important to other people. We can’t travel to far, and only on a good day so the restaurant has to be close to home and available at short notice. I called at 2pm the day before Valentines day to get this table without a problem. It can’t be too bright or too noisy, or he has to wear ear plugs to cancel the noise and then he can’t take part in any conversations. There also has to be parking close by to limit walking, at La Belle Epoque all these things were ticked for us as well as free on-site parking. So far so good.
Out of the five of us the fussiest is bar far my middle son. He has an amazing sense of taste and knows exactly what he likes (and what he doesn’t)! I have been gluten intolerant for the last 11 years and while I’ve got used to what I can and can’t eat but it is nice to try new places and to see if they can accommodate gluten-free (GF) without a problem.
The restaurant offers a children’s menu with a selection of dishes from chicken goujons to pasta. However, my children were keen to see what the Al a Carte menu had to offer. Between us we ordered, scallops, partridge and the fillet of beef. Charlie was keen to have extras of mash, broccoli and gravy so sides of truffle mashed potato and extra red wine jus were added just for him along with carrots and french fries.
My roll was served alongside everyone else’s bread selection and I didn’t have to ask the staff had remembered that I was GF from previous visits.
As you can see the presentation of the food at La Belle Epoque is always impeccable. We tried to remember to take photos for you all but to be honest on some occasions we completely forgot because we were so keen to dive in and sample the dishes in front of us. All my was gluten-free and I couldn’t see and difference to the other plates on the table. I quite fancied trying lobster and frogs legs for starter but the tempura contained gluten so I opted for the scallops and I don’t feel short-changed at all they were absolutely delicious, my son agreed too. The two little ones devoured the partridge for starter leaving only the truffle from the hen’s egg on their plates. We all enjoyed the beef, most of us favouring the fillet but my oldest son preferring the short rib as it just melted in your mouth. There was a wonderful selection of deserts on offer, last time I enjoyed a chocolate mouse with blueberries presented with gold leaf; but today we all opted for different ice creams to try, all home-made, creamy and delicious.
The kids actually asked if they could come here for dinner every night, which is high praise indeed.
We had a great night and laughed a lot as the walk to and from the toilet served as a catwalk runway for the kids. Our son lasted three courses because the restaurant was both quiet and dimly lit, which while to most people is nothing to him is a real accomplishment. The service was impeccable but friendly at the same time and not once were we made to feel like we should have left the kids at home. Eating gluten free here was no issue at all with plenty to choose from and accommodated with no fuss at all from the staff at La Belle Epoque.
If you want something a little more special Heathrow’s La Belle Epoque is well worth a visit, we will most definitely be back. The restaurant also offers a seven course tasting menu or private dining for a more sophisticated, intimate experience. For real foodies, a special chef’s table gives the opportunity to observe mastery at work.
Dinner A La Carte Menu
La Belle Epoque
What we love
- Service - Friendly and impeccable.
- Food - If Al A Carte is your thing you won't get much better than this!
Room for Improvement
- Atmosphere - This suited us because of our son but I can see that some people may want a bit more of a buzz in a restaurant.